District Court Department 17

Albertson v. Villani

Judge Michael Villani faces a challenge from attorney Anna Albertson, formerly known by her maiden name, Yianna Reizakis. 

Albertson, a Democrat, was featured in a counterfeit Nevada Republican Club endorsement ad. Villani declined to say whether he thinks his opponent was behind the ad. 

“If you look at the fake one, it says Nevada Republican Club. Her answer to you is ‘I thought it was an individual,'” he says of Albertson’s explanation to the Current for thanking the endorser. “If that’s her story, I guess we’ll have to believe it.”

Albertson says her political party is irrelevant to justice. 

“I’m going to be a fair and impartial judge whether we’re the same party or not,” she says. “Being fair and impartial is not a partisan thing.  The law is the law.”

She has raised about $120,637 and has about $6,237 on hand as of October 15.  Villani has raised $193,741 and has $76,460 on hand.  

“I had a case against this judge and he rewrote the law against my low-income, Black female client,” says Albertson.  “He created a multi-part test that didn’t exist prior to our case, using case law that shouldn’t have applied.”  

Albertson says the case was appealed and the Supreme Court issued an unpublished opinion. 

“My client is financially decimated,” she says.  

Villani says the Supreme Court upheld his ruling.

“She had a case in my court in 2017. The jury ruled 8-0 against her. in 2019 the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed her loss,” Villani says.  “At every turn she says i wasn’t fair to her female African-American client. Does that mean the Nevada Supreme Court wasn’t fair?”

Villani has a 16.7 percent error rate on 800 appeals, according to Our Nevada Judges. On Sept. 30, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that Villani’s failure to grant a motion to dismiss in a morphine overdose case was erroneous.   

Villani says he’s been affirmed 94 percent of the time this year.

“I’m being affirmed all the time.  You want someone who works hard and gets it right,” he said, adding he’s conducted the second highest number of jury trials in District Court.

“Some of the races have gotten rather ugly,” he said. “We’re supposed to be above that.  Judicial races should not be this way.”

Albertson says she’s in private practice because it affords her control over which clients to represent.  “But you also can make a really big difference on the bench,” she says.  

She says she’s been part of more than 50 trials and “first chair” in more than 30 jury trials.   

She’s represented clients on both sides of civil cases and has recently taken on criminal cases pro bono and sits as a pro tem judge. 

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, a grandson, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.